Nose sniffs out wildland fire, prevents disaster

Posted: Tuesday, June 09, 2009

A keen sense of smell prevented a wildland fire from becoming a bigger blaze than it was on Monday afternoon.

"It came in as a call from someone who smelled smoke in the area," said Brad Nelson, assistant fire marshal at Central Emergency Services in Soldotna.

The area in question was at 32533 Silver Tip Circle, off of Isaak Road, located near Mile 98 of the Sterling Highway, just south of Soldotna.

"Just as I got there to investigate, a second call came in confirming a wildland fire," Nelson said, regarding a call received by CES at 12:52 p.m.

The blaze was burning roughly 20 feet from a dwelling, so emergency personnel responded with haste. According to Nelson, CES responded with two command vehicles, one tanker truck and one brush truck, but he added they were aided by four vehicles from the Alaska Division of Forestry.

The wildland fire was quickly contained and extinguished, and by 2:30 p.m. CES turned the remaining efforts over to Forestry personnel, according to Nelson.

"They were called in and handled the long-term mop-up," he said.

No structures were damaged in the blaze and there were no casualties.

Nelson said the fire began after a large tree came down.

"The tree fell onto a powerline, and it caught the vegetation below it," he said.

The fire grew to a size roughly 200 feet long by 25 feet wide before it was contained, Nelson said.

Reports to the Clarion indicate the tree was shot down by someone using it for target practice, but these reports could not be confirmed by deadline.

The downed powerline also caused a brief power outage for a small numbers residents in the area, according to Homer Electric Association spokesman Joe Gallagher.

"It went off at 12:32 p.m. and was back on at 3:58 p.m. 26 people were without power," he said.

Joseph Robertia can be reached at

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